Like any other hobby, to be able to create with less interruptions and having to stop in the middle of work is to have everything you need in place. If you’re planning to pursue your passion for making beaded handmade jewelries here are some lists of tools you need to have. You might find that some tools may not be used as often as you need them but will be very useful and will come in handy in the future. The tools are available at your local craft stores, some you may find at sewing stores, but most especially, you’ll find them at online beading shops. Brand by brand these basic tools have different characteristics. We suggest reading the package before buying to ensure you’ll have the correct tools.
This is the most important tool when it comes to beading and/or making handmade jewelries. Beading thread is different from sewing threads as it is stiffer and won’t easily fray as it passes the bead several times. Beading threads also come in different sizes and variety of colors. Like how you choose your needle, if you’re using small size beads thinner threads are required, especially if the beadwork pattern involves several passes of threads.
2 Types of beading threads:
1. Bonded Threads
Bonded threads are durable beading threads with the consistency of a fishing line. Bonded threads are made of gel-spun polyethylene or GSP which do not need conditioning before using. Such materials are from brands like Fireline, PowerPro and Wildfire. Bonded threads are less likely to fray and stretch so your beadwork do not become lose or change its size once you finish a piece. Since bonded threads are stiffer they are easy to untangle and easier to thread into a needle but are somewhat hard to cut using a regular scissor. In my experience when you use regular sewing scissors to cut a bonded thread they tip of the thread are likely to fray so, it is best to cut with a craft scissor or a really sharp scissor.
Most beadweavers prefer bonded threads because they are best for off-loom beading. But like all quality materials, they cost expensive.
2. Nylon Threads
If you’re a beginner, beadweaving nylon type threads are highly suggested as they are easier to find. Such brands than carry nylon threads are Nymo, Silamide and C-Lon.
Nylon threads are softer and thinner than bonded threads. Though they are likely to fray, but being cheaper than bonded threads they are recommended for beginners for practice beadweaving. You also need to condition nylon threads before using and can cut them with regular scissors.
Another type of beading thread is the string wire. This is not use for weaving but plainly for stringing heavy gemstones. A string wire is made of stainless steel coated nylons and is not used for making knots. To end a piece that uses string wires is to use a special finding called “crimpers.”
Beeswax and/or Thread Conditioner
Coating your beading thread with beeswax prevents fraying and makes the thread stiffer, less likely to tangle thus; easier for beading. You can watch this video how to use a thread conditioner.
Beading needles are the second most important tool anyone can consider when it comes to making beaded handmade jewelries, especially if you’re working with off-loom beading. Using the correct beading needle you can work faster, with ease and prevents breakage of beads and easy threading.
Beading needles comes in a variety of sizes and like how you measure a wire’s gauge, the bigger the number the smaller the size, i.e. a size 12 beading needle is smaller than a size 10 beading needles. When using beading needles the needle size should correspond to the bead size. If your beadwork requires several passes of threads into the bead’s holes then using a small size beading needle is highly suggested. As the thread passes thru the bead the hole will get narrower and after some time, it will be hard for the needle to pass thru. If you try too hard inserting the thread, this may cause breakage of the bead and ruin your beadwork.
There are also big eye needles available. With big eye needles it is much easier to thread, even without using a needle threader. Personally, this is what I use with all my beadwork.
Needle Case and/or Pin Cushion
A needle case is used to store needles. It can be made of plastic like what I use. My needle case also has a magnet at the back that serves like a pin cushion. You can also pin cushions if you prefer having the needles pinned. You don’t have to buy expensive needle cases or pin cushion. You can use any container that you have to store your needles.
For cutting nylon beading threads regular sewing scissors will do but for cutting bonded beading threads craft scissors is best to work with.
Ruler or Tape Measure
This will come handy to measure your beading threads so you won’t waste too much thread or the amount of thread will be enough to finish up a piece.
This is a tool that you can use to for stringing your beads. You can use it to design your piece where the beads are laid in the order you want them when finished. It has measurements indicated on the board for determining the length of a finished necklace or bracelet. It can also serve as your bead container or bead mat.
A bead mat is simply a piece of cloth which will serve as your surface when beading. It can be made of velvet, terry cloth or suede. Others use rubber mats. I use flannel cloth. You can use whatever cloth that will serve the purpose of a bead mat where you can work, preventing the beads to roll and scatter on the floor.
These trays can be small bowls or cups made of plastic, or glass, or metal. They will serve to contain your beads while beading. Just pour some on your bead mat while beading. When you’re creating a piece that requires different colors of beads, bead trays really do come in handy.
A caliper is used to measure the diameter of your beads. This tool is helpful when you’re creating a piece with different sizes of beads. When finished, the piece all fit together as the size of beads corresponds to each other. You can watch this video how to use a caliper.
Putting a dab of cement glue on your knots will prevent them to loosen, making the piece more durable. The glue will also prevent the thread’s tip to fray.
Tiny it may seem but this tool is very helpful. With the bead stopper it will prevent your beads from falling off the end of the strand. This is best use when stringing beads and making multi-strand necklaces and bracelets. You can watch here how to use a bead stopper.